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The Woodlands Business & Commercial Law Blog

Dealing in commercial real estate? Legal protections are a must

Based on a recent news article, it is safe to say that the business of commercial real estate is performing quite well in Texas. From investors looking to add to their portfolio, business owners looking to expand their companies and new developments in the works, commercial real estate transactions can be found taking place all over the state. These transactions are far from minor purchases and, as such, deserve binding contracts and legal protections.

Leases have been signed, purchases have been made and multiple projects are underway around Houston. Some of these include land purchases for industrial sites and apartment complexes, the change of ownership of retail locations and rental agreements signed for new businesses moving in. Each of these different types of commercial real estate transactions require a variety of different contracts to ensure all legal bases are covered.

Businesses of all sizes deserve experienced legal representation

Whether you are just starting a business, have been in business for a while or have decided to close up shop, business owners in Texas could benefit from experienced legal representation working on their behalf. The formation, running or dissolution of businesses can be complex. Taking appropriate legal steps can help ensure all bases are covered.

The formation of a business can be exciting to pursue. In order to protect a new business, it is important to take care of all the legalities involved. These may include deciding which type of entity to form, creating legal documents which spell out company policies and even ensuring adequate insurance policies have been established.

Unfair non-compete agreements can lead to business litigation

Non-compete agreements are fairly standard in the business world. These legal documents are often used to help protect company assets, particularly trade secrets, from being used by competitors should an employee choose to work elsewhere. While these contracts certainly serve a valuable purpose, Texas business owners must be careful to ensure that the stipulations spelled out in these documents are considered reasonable, as those that are considered unfair could lead to business litigation.

A nationwide fast food chain is currently drawing negative attention in the press for non-compete agreements it has supposedly required its minimum-wage workers to sign. According to recent news reports, Jimmy Johns has required low-wage hourly employees to sign contracts that would prohibit them from working for competing restaurants, within a set radius, for a minimum of two years. Several lawmakers are requesting a formal investigation to be performed by the U.S. Department of Labor and the Federal Trade Commission, claiming these type of contracts are incompatible with current labor laws.

Businesses shared with friends or family still need boundaries

There are a number of reasons why friends and/or family members living in Texas may choose to go into business together. One main reason would be that they already know their future business partners and feel it would be a good working relationship. However, the business world can be brutal, so it is a good idea for the owners of these businesses to set clear boundaries between their work and personal relationships.

When starting a business, communication between business partners is key. It is important for each partner to feel what they say is given equal weight. Being able to have open and honest communication is certainly a strength that can help not only their business relationship, but also improve the chances of future success.

What are the defining characteristics of closely held businesses?

Starting a business is an exciting venture to pursue. A lot of considerations must be made regarding the legal aspects of forming a business, as these choices can greatly affect the future of the company. For instance, small business owners in Texas and those of larger corporations may choose to keep their companies as closely held businesses. What exactly are the defining characteristics of closely held businesses and how does maintaining this status help a company's bottom-line?

For a business to qualify for closely held status, certain standards must be met. First and foremost, the company's assets need to be held by as few people as possible. According to the IRS, in order for a business to obtain closely held status, more than half of the company must be owned by no more than five people. Certain business types are ineligible to receive a closely held rating, including law firms, accounting firms, personal service firms of any type and engineering firms. However, every state does have individual corporate laws that must also be considered when determining if a business meets the definition of being closely held.

Former employees can cause business disputes in Texas

Most business owners here in Texas know just how important it can be to keep employees happy. This can lead to higher levels of employee retention, better productivity and even fewer sick days. There are times that, even with a business owner's best efforts, some employees are not going to be satisfied at their job. Some of them may even become so upset that they take out their frustrations by compromising a company's online security. The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security have recently warned that upset former -- or even current -- employees can be a major source of business disputes if their access to a company network isn't monitored.

The FBI and DHS cite the prevalence in the modern office of using computer networks to share information between employees and other authorized entities. Authorities warn that while this connectivity is useful, it can also be dangerous. Some employees have used this access to steal company secrets, abuse customer accounts or even manipulate and eliminate company data. This can occur when a company utilizes a cloud storage website or if an employee installs software on a company computer that allows him or her to log in remotely. 

How are businesses sold in Texas?

Business owners here in Texas are resourceful and hard-working. They often spend years cultivating their companies, allowing them to become profitable and productive. Sometimes, and for varying reasons, a person may decide to sell his or her business. Many may not know exactly how to do so or what the implications may be. Selling businesses can be difficult to accomplish -- it is an important decision and should not be taken lightly, but it can be the best choice in many cases.

Though there are ideal circumstances under which a person would like to sell his or her business, the reality is that it may not be possible to do so. The best thing a business owner can do is determine what is most important. Designating an exact number that the owner would like to sell the business for can also help guide his or her choices. The owner may also not have an accurate picture of what the business is actually worth, especially if he or she has put a great deal of work into developing the company. Assistance from a reputable third party may be necessary.

Intricacies of Texas construction law can benefit from experience

When any building is being constructed, the amount of people and companies that are involved can be quite a few. This can leave open the possibility that personalities will clash, miscommunications will occur or even that someone will deliberately not deliver on a promise made. Whatever happens, the legal implications that can accompany construction can have an impact on everyone's bottom line. For this reason, it can be beneficial to involve an experienced Texas construction law representative. At the law firm of Gauntt, Earl & Binney, LLP we have the background to handle any legal problems that may surface.

One area in which we excel is preventing problems before they begin. We provide risk management services to anyone in construction, be they a contractor, subcontractor or another entity. We will examine contracts and operational procedures as well as generate documentation. It is our aim to avoid litigation whenever possible.

Banks increase lending for commercial real estate in Texas

One of the most important aspects of purchasing a commercial real estate property is financing. Since the recent recession, banks have been less willing to give out loans for commercial real estate investments in Texas or in any other state. However, many financial experts have noted that banks are now beginning to start lending again for commercial real estate.

A recent survey by the Federal Reserve found that banks have been easing up on their standards for obtaining most types of loans for commercial real estate. Also, the latest FDIC report revealed that commercial real estate lending from banks has reached levels that have not been seen since 2007. This is a significant development because banks had avoided giving out loans for commercial real estate for several years due to losses sustained prior to the Great Recession.

What legal measures can help avoid partnership disputes in Texas?

Texas businesses that decide to collaborate may decide to enter a partnership. This can be a formal partnership with specific legal documentation or it may be a verbal agreement. In either case, businesses may not know the exact legal measures involved in order to make these partnerships beneficial to all parties. Potential partnership disputes can be avoided by following certain guidelines. 

Using written, legal documentation may be the best way to ensure that a partnership is successful. They are simple to start and often do not require a great deal of expense. Though there are differences in how they are managed, dependent on the the type of companies involved and the specified type of partnership, they don't always require formal procedures for smaller tasks. Companies can rely on voting when larger decisions have to be made. The tax benefits can be significant for smaller businesses, and these partnerships sometimes aren't required to pay the same minimum taxes that LLCs and corporations must pay.